New research on a pair of two million-year-old skeletons is helping to solidify the timeline of human evolution.

After two partial skeletons were found at a South African site known as the Cradle of Humankind a decade ago, debate arose as to whether they were from the same species, or represented two distinct human ancestors.

Now, a series of studies meticulously analyzing the remains has finally put the issue to rest.

Despite apparent differences in certain bone structures, researchers say the two skeletons are, in fact, from the same species – they simply represent two different stages of growth.

Researchers from several universities published a total of nine papers in a special issue of the journal PaleoAnthropology this month investigating the two ancient skeletons.

The bones of the juvenile male (MH1) and adult female (MH2) were found at the fossil site of Malapa back in 2008.

At the time, discoverer Lee Berger and colleagues named a new hominin species based on the find: Australopithecus sediba.

Several years later, however, a research group suggested the two individuals may not be from the same species, due to differences in their lumbar vertebrae.

An exhaustive analysis of 135 fossils has now allowed researchers to outline the body proportions and walking mechanics of the two long-deceased human ancestors, along with their skull, vertebral column, and other parts.

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